German Film Awards to Go Ahead Without Audience Amid Coronavirus

Berlin Alexanderplatz with actor Welket Bungué
© Wolfgang Ennenbach/2019 Sommerhaus/eOne Germany

Instead of canceling the Lolas, the German equivalent of the Oscars, the local film industry has decided to do a live broadcast of the awards on April 24 without the usual gala.

Coronavirus or not, the German film industry has determined that the show must go on.

Germany will still hand out its equivalent of the Oscars, the German Film Awards, in a live ceremony in Berlin on April 24, despite the country being on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of the usual gala, the 70th German Film Awards will take place without an audience of stars and film VIPs and with nominees and winners watching from their homes.

"Even as all the borders are closing and we're in this state of emergency where we want and have to protect ourselves, we still want to find a way to celebrate the nominees and winners and to create something, live and of course unique,” said Sherry Hormann, who will direct this year's ceremony.

Actor Edin Hasanovic (You Are Wanted, Skylines) will host the 2020 German Film Awards, which will see nominees and winners receive a share of around $3.2 million in prize money, handed out by the German Cultural Ministry. The money is earmarked for investment in new productions once, post-crisis, film production begins again. Nominees and winners will be piped in live from their homes, where they are sheltering in place as required under government guidelines.

Burhan Qurbani's Berlin Alexanderplatz, a modern-day adaptation of the 1930s-set literary classic, is the front-runner for this year's awards, called the Lolas, with 11 nominations, including for best film and best director. Right behind it in the running is Nora Fingscheidt's social drama System Crasher, a hit at last year's Berlin International Film Festival, with 10 nominations, including for best film.

"Even in these extraordinary times, the extraordinary films of the year should be properly appreciated,” said Ulrich Matthes, president of the German Film Academy.

Galas and live events have largely shuttered during the global coronavirus pandemic, but some companies are finding innovative ways of producing and airing shows under the new normal of enforced quarantine measures. Late-night comedy shows are being produced from kitchens, backyards and even, in the case of Stephen Colbert's Late Show, from a bathtub. And over the weekend, World Wrestling Entertainment managed to air WrestleMania 36 by staging the two-night event in a fan-free arena and pre-taping the show, a first in the company's history.